Black tops and tonal combinations under
In many ways, today's outfit is a natural extension of things we’ve been talking about recently.
There was, back on August 12, our discussion about wearing all black, which has some bearing here. The outfit is not all black, of course, but it is almost monochrome and features black more prominently than as a shoe or accessory, as we had discussed more often in the past.
I think it’s worth restating than I have not, and am not, advocating black as a replacement for more classic-menswear colours like grey or navy. Those will always be easier to wear, more subtle, and flatter more men most of the time.
The aim is to help drag black out of obscurity, and show how it can be an enjoyable alternative to those standards.
You may want that alternative out of a desire to appear less corporate, to be more individual, or to just to evoke some of black’s connotations around fashion and music. Whatever the motivation, these are ways I like to do it.
The other reason this outfit is a natural extension of previous discussions is its tonality.
The T-shirt (knitted cotton from Thom Sweeney) is white and the trousers (linen from Ambrosi) are off-white. You could call the latter a pale beige, perhaps even biscuity. I wouldn’t call it stone because there’s no grey.
But it does its job, which is to keep the whole tonal while not being the same as the T-shirt. White and white would be bolder, perhaps in some ways less sophisticated; beige and white has a little something more to it. Something that draws you in rather than pushing you away.
Of course, such outfits are slightly impractical, in that they look very pale if you take the outer layer off. But that’s more a problem when people do that look with an overcoat - similarly toned knitwear and trousers under a bold coat, for example.
Here, the linen overshirt feels so much like a shirt, rather than outerwear, that it’s unlikely I would ever take it off. Certainly, on the two days when I did wear it in Italy recently I didn’t feel any need to do so, despite the heat.
With the sleeves rolled back, and the front open whenever needed, it was always cool enough. And it had the practicality of five different pockets available to hold phone, wallet, keys and so on.
Rather nicely, Milad and I received a couple of compliments from shop owners on what we were wearing - and not menswear shops either, regular shopping shops.
With me in this overshirt, and Milad in a Bryceland’s towelling shirt, we were hardly smart. But it was remarked that it was nice to see people a little more dressed up compared to all the tourists in Rome at the time.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that both times this happened in nice shops - a perfumery, a jewellery store - that clearly gave thought to their own appearance. The place, the packaging and the staff were all very tastefully done. It’s often in shops like this that flip-flops can look a little out of place.
Now, I’m always aware here that there is a risk of being judgmental, and I really strive to avoid that, no matter what my opinions.
But I do think there’s a place for making these points in a way that isn’t personal or censorious. Complimenting someone else on being well dressed, as those staff did to us, is for example a positive rather than a negative way of doing it.
And the most positive is to simply dress well - elegantly but relevantly - and inspire others by doing so.
I saw a young guy walking down the street last week in a loose cotton suit, and the same evening, a female presenter at a talk in a tan suit and western boots. Both inspired me to wear a suit the next day, rather than jacket and jeans. It affects to us all.
This linen overshirt is a prototype for a new colour of the PS Overshirt, for next Spring. As ever your thoughts on it are welcome. The shoes are black-suede classic Sagans from Baudoin & Lange.
I wrote a separate post, this past Monday, on the main outfit I wore to Rome, which was smarter and led by my Caraceni double-breasted jacket. Today’s outfit was the alternative - worn for part of the travelling, for the less important of the three days, and for something to change into the evening if that felt like a relaxing thing to do.
On a short trip like this I often bring just two outfits - one being worn, the other in the suitcase - that will cover most eventualities and be alternated. Then things to swap when the outfits are worn a second time (another white tee, another linen shirt) and perhaps something in case the weather turns (a sweater, an undershirt, a hat). But that’s all: it’s an easy formula.
Photography: Milad Abedi
I should also have said that this outfit could fit into the category of Casual Chic - which I have personally and somewhat arbitrarily defined as dressing elegantly without a tailored jacket. More on that here and vintage inspiration for it here.